The appeal of a second location is undeniable. Debuts are measured in excitement, innovation, and sleep-deprived hindsight on a million different details. It’s a fact that haunts the older sibling of every family: the first round is a well-intended experiment. The second is a chance to do some refining.
Scotti Sitz and John Davidson, the owners of Garde, didn’t want a carbon copy of their hit-making design and decor boutique in LA. The idea of opening a second space in Summerland, a seaside destination just south of Santa Barbara, was more of a wish than a possibility . . . until it suddenly wasn’t that far-fetched. “While relaxing in Montecito, we did what we usually do when visiting here: we check out the antique shops, which this building had housed for nearly 50 years. The owner had passed away sadly, but that opened up an opportunity for us to explore and pursue. It just felt like it was meant to be,” says Sitz.
The building was a circa-1921 two-level barn in need of a lift. A series of 12 pane windows were boarded up, obscuring what Sitz believed to be one of the most impressive features of the space. Taking a step back and uncovering those details helped Sitz and Davidson find their style direction. Drenching the interiors in white and installing wide-planed Douglas fir floors, the pair were able to create a clean, unvarnished environment—something she describes as “light, bright, but warm, not a gallery or a museum, comfortable, natural.” Allowing the space to breathe meant the interiors could host the chic, unexpected designers and artisans that Garde is known for. “There is definitely overlap of certain designers who have been at the core of our image and business for many years, such as Michael Verheyden, Vincent van Duysen, Dante and Faye Toogood. However, we have been able to introduce a few new designers like Azadeh Shaldovsky and Mandy Graham,” says Stiz. A few must-see pieces include those from Apparatus and Workstead as well as lighting by Giopato & Coombes.
The shifting retail landscape has not escaped Summerland. The area used to be replete with antiques and vintages shops, but many have closed due to differing design tastes, location costs, and the general risks associated with any business. Of the ebb and flow, Sitz relays, “it has changed, and it continues to be very challenging in the day of the internet, or deep pockets, or savvy explorers. Almost everything is accessible to everyone. I think it is very important for any retailer (along with the curation of special items) to offer an experience that is memorable. That memorable experience at times can be as simple as great customer service, which will always reward you!”
With this new location, Garde is also forging into new territory (literally) with the creation of Garde House, a 1,000-square-foot apartment on the barn’s second level. The one-bedroom space will be available to rent on Airbnb and comes outfitted in the boutique’s furnishings like tableware from Piet Boon, When Objects Work cookware, and Lefroy Brooks kitchen and bath fixtures, along with Garde’s own line of sofas—a collaboration between the shop and Mandy Graham.
If the Garde House signals anything, it is the desire for elevated brand experiences we have come to appreciate (and expect) them from luxury purveyors. With this iteration, Garde’s owners have made their outpost an expansive, first-rate destination worth the overnight stay. “I wanted to create not only an extended showroom, but also a continuation of our brand and lifestyle, featuring bedding, robes, tabletop, and coffee, all your comforts,” says Sitz.